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Stress Less!

There is plenty our pets could get stressed about in the coming months. Tropical summer storms, new routines due to COVID-19, separation anxiety, and the arrival of a new pet or baby, can all provide inconsistent levels of anxiety if left unchecked.

What causes dog anxiety?

  • Separation
  • Fear
  • Ageing
  • Change of routine

What are the symptoms of dog anxiety?

So, how can you tell if your dog has anxiety? There are several important symptoms to look out for:

  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviours (e.g. licking paws)
  • Behavioural changes (e.g. separation anxiety)
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Whimpering
  • Excessive barking
  • Drooling
  • Panting excessively
  • Pacing
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression

Thunderstorm phobia

Dogs with thunderstorm phobia may become extremely frantic and overwhelmed with fear during our storm season. Even the smell of a storm can send a dog into a frenzy. Astraphobia is the technical term for this: the fear of thunder and lightning. Owners who see their dogs experiencing this fear usually feel helpless and frustrated. Thunderstorm fear and anxiety can occur for many reasons and at any age. We may never fully understand why it happens; some dogs are just more prone to thunderstorm phobia or react more strongly to storms than others.

Common signs of thunderstorm phobia include hiding, trembling, crying or whining, excessive licking, urinating or defecating in the house, pacing, panting, drooling, restlessness, trying to escape into or out of the house, or looking to an owner for cuddles and comfort by pawing the owner, nuzzling, or whimpering.

There are a variety of options that could help treat your dog’s storm phobia. Please contact your local VetLove clinic to find out more.

What causes cat stress?

  • Cat conflict – multi-cat households
  • New cat or dog neighbours
  • Cattery stays
  • Moving home
  • Travelling
  • Change in routine
  • Loud noises

What are the symptoms of cat stress?

  • Urine spraying
  • Hiding
  • Scratching furniture or wall frames
  • Fighting with other cats in the household
  • Overgrooming
  • Change in appetite

How to treat pet anxiety

The best way to treat pet anxiety is to talk with your VetLove veterinarian. They can help identify the type of anxiety your pet may be suffering and rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your pet’s symptoms. Your veterinarian will help you come up with a treatment plan. Since excessive anxiety is often caused by a variety of factors, the best way to treat it is usually through a combination of preventive strategies, training and, in some cases, medication. There are some great alternative therapies now that can provide good results.

Natural remedies

ADAPTIL (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) is a synthetic copy of the natural appeasing pheromone that puppies are exposed to after birth when feeding from their mother. When used on any age dog it mimics the properties of this natural reassuring signal, thus reducing anxiety and preventing fear and stress-related behaviours. ADAPTIL is scientifically proven to reduce the intensity of fear felt by a dog during firework exposure.

ADAPTIL is available in three convenient formulations.

Feliway is a synthetic copy of the natural feline facial pheromone cats use to mark their environment as safe and familiar. When used in the home it signals to cats that they are in a secure environment. Feliway is scientifically proven to reassure cats and may help to reduce fearful reactions to loud noises and prevent stress due to indoor confinement. Feliway is available from your VetLove clinic, and the great news is you don’t need a prescription to purchase it across the counter. However, we highly recommend a vet visit to ensure there are no underlying problems causing the behaviours. Feliway is available in a diffuser and a spray.

Medications

If your dog develops a serious anxiety disorder, your veterinarian may recommend medications or natural therapies. Antidepressants are occasionally prescribed for dogs with anxiety. For predictable anxiety-producing events like thunderstorms, fireworks, or car rides, your veterinarian might prescribe a medication in conjunction with an antidepressant to help your dog cope with the stress, depending on your pet’s case. Natural products use pheromones and aromatherapy to reduce anxiety. Talk to your veterinarian about the natural products best suited for your pet.

Preventing dog anxiety

It can be difficult to predict exactly what will make your dog anxious, and even more difficult to determine if your dog’s anxiety will develop into a more serious disorder. However, there are ways to help a dog or puppy avoid anxiety-related problems:

  • Body language
  • Socialisation
  • Obedience training
  • Exercise and good nutrition

The take-home message

Like humans, many dogs will experience anxiety at some point throughout their lives. If you think your dog might have an issue with anxiety, it’s best to consult your VetLove veterinarian, who can diagnose your dog, rule out any other health issues, and help you develop a treatment plan that best fits your pet and lifestyle.

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